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Listening to the Whispers

Re-thinking Ethics in Healthcare

Edited by Christine Sorrell Dinkins and Jeanne Merkle Sorrell

Publication Year: 2006

Listening to the Whispers gives voice to scholars in philosophy, medical anthropology, physical therapy, and nursing, helping readers re-think ethics across the disciplines in the context of today's healthcare system. Diverse voices, often unheard, challenge readers to enlarge the circle of their ethical concerns and look for hidden pathways toward new understandings of ethics. Essays range from a focus on the context of corporatization and managed care environments to a call for questioning the fundamental values of society as these values silently affect many others in healthcare. Each chapter is followed by a brief essay that highlights issues useful for scholarly research and classroom discussion. The conversations of interpretive research in healthcare contained in this volume encourage readers to re-think ethics in ways that will help to create an ethical healthcare system with a future of new possibilities.


Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi

We gratefully acknowledge the many persons whose contributions have made the completion of this book possible. We cannot possibly list all of these special individuals but would like to specifically acknowledge the following: Nancy and John Diekelmann for their constant guidance; Steve Salemson for his knowledgeable editorial and administrative...

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pp. 3-6

This fifth volume of the Series on Interpretive Studies in Healthcare and the Human Sciences gives voice to scholars in philosophy, medical anthropology, physical therapy, and nursing, gathering together each scholar’s understandings of ethics in his or her own discipline. The studies contained herein reflect different interpretive methodologies to help us rethink...

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1. A Whispered Story

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pp. 7-9

She started off differently than I expected. With a story. (And yet, why should that surprise me, lover of stories? Maybe because somehow I forgot that stories lie here in this topic of ethics.) She started with a story. A story that called us in. And there was this quietness that permeated the room, the night. Almost a reverence that I recall in church as a young child, a call, not an...

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2. Corporatization and the Institutional Aspectsof Morality in Home Care

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pp. 10-60

When I approached the community health nurses1 at the Riverside Home Care Agency2 about participating in an ethnographic analysis of the institutional aspects of morality in home care, they interpreted my work as being a study about “the other stuff.” They were referring to the workplace domain as they understood it, namely, business principles,...

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Editors’ Response: Out of the Danger, the Saving

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pp. 61-68

Olsan’s study gives us the opportunity to hear stories from nurses and patients about the threat of depersonalization under corporatization. The patients find themselves thrown into a world that is chaotic and impersonal. The nurses find their workplace and profession transformed into something that marginalizes them and their patients, measures productivity...

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3. Ethics of Articulation: Constituting Organizational Identity in a Catholic Hospital System

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pp. 69-129

The religious morality underpinning Catholic healthcare informs the ethical motivation to provide care for the poor and the sick in the modern world. The challenge posed by the world is how to sustain an organizational identity that is at once the descendant of the formal Catholic Church and yet a distinctive response to the demands of the pluralistic...

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Editors’ Response: Creating Ethical Spaces Within Healthcare Organizations

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pp. 130-137

Lee’s study demonstrates how the practice of ethics extends beyond rules and regulations to a way of thinking and acting, not only of individuals, but collaboratively within and between organizations to establish what he refers to as “a new catholicity—a model that engages religious legacy and community values, navigating the increasing social pluralization of contemporary...

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4. Teleology, the Modern Moral Dichotomy, and Postmodern Bioethics in the 21st Century

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pp. 138-183

It could be suggested that the turn of the 21st century, the beginning of the new millennium, would have been a fitting occasion by which to mark the beginning of the postmodern era of bioethics. In its current form, bioethics began as a critique of traditional medical ethics conceived as the customary practices of physicians rooted in the Hippocratic tradition.

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Editors’ Response: An Ancient Ethics for21st-Century Healthcare

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pp. 184-189

Slosar argues that today’s ethics, both in healthcare and elsewhere, gives individuals a choice between two unsatisfying alternatives: a deontological ethics like that of Kant, or a consequentialist ethics like that of Mill and other utilitarians. These two models for ethics have been dominant for so long that they tower over all ethical discussions. Even attempts at...

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5. Reflections of Moral Dilemmas and Patterns of Ethical Decision Making in Five ClinicalPhysical Therapists

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pp. 190-241

Physical therapists, like all healthcare workers, make value judgments about the clinical care of their patients. Often, however, values between patients, physical therapists, and other healthcare workers conflict, challenging the moral obligations (duties) of the physical therapists to do the right thing. Although a code of ethics provides a moral framework...

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Editors’ Response: Bending, but Not Breaking, the Rules

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pp. 242-247

Greenfield suggests that a worthy goal of codes of ethics is to clarify a moral language for its professional members. His study raises the question: In the current context of managed care and evolving roles for healthcare practitioners, how much guidance do professional codes provide for ethical decision making? Do practitioners of physical therapy,...

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6. Beyond the Individual: Healthcare Ethics in Diverse Societies

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pp. 248-304

Twenty-first-century healthcare fuels new questioning about how we want to live and interact with others. While ethics in healthcare involves issues so interwoven into daily living that they are often taken for granted or overlooked, the literature on medical ethics and bioethics has historically emphasized extreme and overt situations—typically the margins of...

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Editors’ Response: Community, Caring, and the Double Bind

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pp. 305-309

In Ancient Greece, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle realized that the individual cannot be understood apart from society. Socrates chose to die rather than live without the daily social interaction of his philosophical dialogues. Plato considered the pursuit of a just society to be a necessary pursuit of a just individual. Aristotle thought it pointless to consider the...

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7. An Ethics of Diversity: Listening in Thin Places

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pp. 310-314

Celtic traditions describe the concept of a “thin place,” an in-between place that merges the natural and sacred worlds, where the ordinary and non-ordinary mingle, where the seen and the unseen share common ground. Gomes (1996) suggests that these thin places are likely to be found where there is greatest suffering, among the marginalized and...


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pp. 315-317


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pp. 319-330

E-ISBN-13: 9780299216535
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299216542

Publication Year: 2006